Depending on how close you're paying attention, you may notice a new graphic in the ever-changing series to your right. The link will bring you to the Electronic Freedom Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers, which I encourage you to read if you blog.
When I started seriously blogging, I set myself two ground rules, which I've more or less successfully followed in the past year...
- No posting - positive or negative - on current business relationships. I'm a freelancer, and usually have ongoing work with two to three companies at any given time. I don't talk about them or the work. Ever. Past business relationships are fair game if 1) the company is out of business as many of my ex-employers are or 2) where I'd sooner eat monkey manure then ever work for them again. Two companies fit the latter description, btw, and no, I won't name them here. If you're a regular reader of fhb, you can figure it out.
- No stuff that might potentially embarrass family/friends. On the iffy items, I either didn't bother to post or got permission, usually from Peggy.
But, as the intro to the EFF legal guide notes...
Whether you're a newly minted blogger or a relative old-timer, you've been seeing more and more stories pop up every day about bloggers getting in trouble for what they post.
Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don't want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that's under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.
The difference between you and the reporter at your local newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of training or resources to help you determine whether what you're doing is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn't help - in many cases it was written for traditional journalists, and the courts haven't yet decided how it applies to bloggers.
But here's the important part: None of this should stop you from blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn't use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That's why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom.